Why is it advisable to wear compression stockings during pregnancy?

What are compression stockings used for and what are their advantages?

Exercising a squeeze on the legs, restraint devices also called compression devices (stockings, socks or tights) promote venous return and therefore avoid the stasis of blood in the veins.

During pregnancy, stockings are used to relieve ailments related to venous insufficiency: heavy legs, swollen feet, etc. – in addition to preventing thromboembolic risks in women with a history of phlebitis, confirms Dr. Sébastien Gracia, vascular physician.

Why wear compression stockings during pregnancy?

Near 25% of the population – men and women alike – suffer venous insufficiency. “This condition is related to loss of venous tone as well as a malfunction of the small valve – called valves – which prevent reflux and help the blood to go back to the heart ”, recalls the specialist. However, pregnancy tends to increase venous insufficiency. “This aggravates the lesions already existing in 15-20% of women, or reveals lesions that did not exist until then, confirm the authors of the Grand livre de ma pregnancy. In addition, it causes the appearance of varicose veins a risk of phlebitis in afterwards “Hence the importance of adopting certain hygiene and dietary rules – walk regularly, do not gain too much weight, etc. – and wear a compression which promotes the venous returnrelieves the heavy legs And reduces edema.

What are the causes of venous insufficiency in pregnant women?

Indignant 20-30% increase in blood volume And lowering the tone of the venous walls caused by the pregnancy hormonesin pregnant women the uterus takes up more and more space in the abdominal cavity e compresses the large blood vessels – including the vena cava – responsible for carrying blood from the legs back to the heart. “All this contributes to a poor blood circulation And venous stasis worsens “, Confirms the specialist.

What are its symptoms?

In pregnant women, venous insufficiency usually translates to:

When to wear compression stockings? Can we sleep with it?

To the pregnant women having history of varicose veins, phlebitis or suffering from venous insufficiencythe wear compression stockings (or compression stockings) is recommended by the 3rd month of pregnancy and this up to six weeks after delivery during the postpartum period. On the other hand, there is no point in wearing compression at night as there is none stagnation of blood in the veins while lying down. “If necessary, the legs can be raised a little by sliding, for example, a pillow under the mattress or wedges under the foot of the bed to facilitate venous return “, Advises the vascular doctor.

Is it okay to wear a retainer every day and how long should you keep it on?

It is recommended to wear the compression stockings every day for relieve heavy legs and limit the risk of venous thrombosis. “Compression stockings, socks or tights that improve venous return and thus fight against its drawbacks, we must try to wear as much as possible, recalls Dr. Gracia. Especially since there is a large selection of squeeze items today. But even this shouldn’t become a constraint. If at the beginning of the afternoon you can’t stand them anymore or if you want to enjoy the beach, take them off! “.

Socks, tights or compression stockings: which one to choose?

It exists today various medical compression devices : socks, stockings or tights. “It is up to the pregnant woman to choose the most suitable shape for their condition and comfort, advises Dr. Gracia. Stockings that reach mid-thigh can be tight and uncomfortable to wear. As for the pantyhose, which includes the waist and belly, they are sometimes uncomfortable at the end of the pregnancy. It’s all a question of feelings. “

Class 1, 2, 3 or 4: how to orient yourself?

And the phlebologist or the attending physician to determine compression (the class) that fits. The Haute Autorité de Santé remembers that there is 4 levels of compression for compression stockings in France:

  • class 1 whose pressure is between 10 and 15 mmHg (millimeter of mercury) is prescribed less and less by doctors who prefer class 2.
  • class 2 which exerts a pressure between 15 and 20 mmHg is the class the most prescribed. It is indicated for women who suffer from venous insufficiency or who have varicose veins. It is also prescribed after surgery or to prevent venous thrombosis during long air travel.
  • class 3 operating at a pressure between 20 and 36 mmHg is prescribed when class 2 is not sufficient or in case of phlebitis.
  • finally class 4 whose compression is greater than 36 mmHg is recommended in patients suffering from pathologies of the type lymphedema.

Where to order compression stockings?

Order medical compression devices in the pharmacy Where in a specialized shop. If stockings, tights and socks still suffer from an unglamorous image today, it is clear that manufacturers have made a lot of progress. There is in fact today a very large selection of articles. Of extravagant model to semi transparent passing through the one with the open foot – more pleasant for the summer! – or hold-ups: hard not to find what you are looking for! The use of natural materials such as linen, cotton or bamboo has the advantage of being suitable for sensitive skin. Finally, the products are available in a wide choice of colors to suit all complexions.

When to go to the pharmacy to order them?

he is recommended to go to the pharmacy or in a specialized shop the morning. “That is, before the legs are swollen,” says Dr. Gracia. The pharmacist will measure the circumference of the patient’s ankle and calf and the height from the foot to the knee to order the most suitable size “.

How to keep them?

The health insurance website recommends hand washing socks with a mild soap such as Marseille soap.

  • wash your pair of socks by hand,
  • rinse well,
  • squeeze it without twisting it,
  • just do it dry plate and in the open air, never in the dryer,
  • do not iron it.

Depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations, you can too machine wash at 30 ° C without fabric softener by first putting them in a small bag.

Reimbursement of compression stockings

Medical compression devices are covered by social security up to 60%. 4 to 8 pairs can be reimbursed per year.

Are there any contraindications?

The wear of compression stockings is contraindicated in the following cases :

  • the severe forms of arterial disease,
  • the skin infections where the unhealed wounds,
  • the diabetic microangiopathy that is, damage to the small blood vessels inside people with diabetes.

Restrictions and Air Travel

You are pregnant And she must travel by plane ? It is highly recommended to wear a pair of socks, compression stockings or tights to avoid the risk of venous thrombosis (phlebitis) e pulmonary embolism especially on long haul flights. Put on your socks at least one hour before departure and keep them for a few hours after arrival.

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